CIS Countdown 2012: Our playoff picks

Just in time for today's CIS football opener, we've made our predictions for each conference champion, bowl game winner, and Vanier Cup champion:

(Click for a larger version, and click through to read more about our picks.)

Our panelists, listed above in no particular order, are:
Andrew Bucholtz
Mike Radoslav
Neate Sager
Evan Daum
Brian Decker
Rob Pettapiece
Perry King
Jim Mullin

Only three of us are predicting a repeat of last year's Vanier matchup, but we all chose either McMaster or Laval to win it. As expected, there is more disagreement on who will win the Canada West/OUA bowl game than there is on whether Laval will win (or, in one case, Montreal).

Also, no two ballots are exactly alike.

Some assorted comments from our panel:

There are 10 teams capable of making it to the big game; Laval, McMaster, Calgary, Regina, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Queen`s, Montreal, Western and Sherbrooke.

AUS: Acadia over SMU... Axemen have the momentum and the best QB in Atlantic Time Zone.
RSEQ: Laval over Montreal... Sene vs. Fred-o and AGN. Two versus one isn't fair.

OUA: McMaster over Queen's... A young (Golden) Gaels team comes of age with an upset in the playoffs, but Quinlan and DiCroce are too much at Joyce.
CW: Calgary over Saskatchewan... The Huskies upset the Rams on the road, but don't have the horses to push around a team with 7 of 8 All-Canadian returning.

AUS v. RSEQ - Laval over Acadia... This mismatch makes the case for reformation of the CIS playoffs.
OUA v. CW - McMaster over Calgary... This game will be the most epic matchup of the season and will not disappoint. I only give this to Mac because of home field advantage.

Vanier: Laval 28 McMaster 26... Predicting a score on a national championship game three months out makes me a fool or it could be a desperate cry for attention.
-- Jim Mullin


RSEQ: Laval (easy, but automatic, considering who they are)
OUA: Western (Kyle Quinlan may be back at Mac, but the Mustangs will a lot of pressure to perform—I'm guessing they will be able to succeed)
AUS: St. FX (not a strong schedule, so they'll have a chance at topping Acadia)
Canada West: Calgary (with UBC maybe making it close)

Vanier Cup matchup: Western vs. Laval (the dream matchup!), with Laval winning a close one.
-- Perry King


AUS: Acadia. Great continuity from a 2011 team that won the conference and had the eventual Vanier champs up against the wall early in the Uteck Bowl, plus some star power with Kyle Graves.
QUFL: Laval. I'm also looking forward to seeing many Fredo Plesius highlights this year, and also, they're Laval.
OUA: McMaster. The balance of power in the OUA has fully shifted to Hamilton, but so have the expectations - something they were able to avoid most of last year. Still, too much firepower for some improved OUA squads to take down.
CWUAA: Regina. Would be great to see Marc Mueller come back and play like he was expected to last year before his injury.

Vanier: McMaster

The fourth and final instalment of the Kyle Quinlan Show should be great (and hopefully less turbulent than 2011). Recent injuries are a concern - Chris Pezzetta was subtly a beast in their Vanier run [Ed. note: but is out for the year -RP], and Mike DiCroce starting the season on the sidelines is a concern - but they're so deep and creative on offence it shouldn't be a problem. Between Quinlan, a suddenly seasoned defence and great overall depth, it's hard to best against Mac in 2012.
-- Brian Decker
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